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Chapter 24 : Weasley vs. Potter
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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is copyrighted by JK Rowling. No money is being made off of this.
Author's Note: The note at the end of the last chapter should be considered a secret Order communication, and therefore written in code. Don't worry about Ginny sitting next to him while he read it, she'd need a couple of brain cells to even notice it, lol. Anyway, expect more Slughorn in this chapter, as well as Quidditch tryouts (they need two new Chasers to replace Angelina and Alicia, who graduated the previous year). I may go further than that, who knows...
Chapter 24 Weasley vs. Potter
Harry posted the notice for tryouts early the next week, as he had need of a new Chaser, and maybe a new Keeper if he could find anyone better than Ron Weasley. He knew there was definitely something wrong with Ron; he had sensed it during the summer in those few minutes he had spent at the Burrow. Ron was up to something, and it involved Hermione. And speaking of Hermione... He thought for a second then changed the date of the tryouts. He had a feeling they'd work very well together. Now to find Hermione, he thought.
Hermione had been in the library for about an hour when Harry walked in. She was working on homework that wasn't actually due for another week. While she nibbled on her quill in concentration, Harry slipped up behind her and started massaging the back of her neck. “Ohhh, Harry...” she murmured in ecstasy as she leaned into his fingers. “Let me guess, that's not due until next week, is it?” Harry whispered, leaning closer to her ear as he continued working his magic on her neck and shoulders.
“No it's not,” she admitted, relishing in the feel of his fingers on her skin and his breath tickling her ear.
“How about you do something that could produce results sooner?” Harry asked her.
“Like what?” she murmured.
“The Gryffindor team needs two new Chasers since Angelina and Alicia left. I was thinking you'd fit the bill perfectly,” Harry said. Hermione turned around to stare at him, incredulous. “You think I can play Quidditch? Harry, I can't even fly very well.”
“That is easily remedied. Who better to give you private tutoring than the team Captain?” Harry pointed out. “Come on, we can start now.” And he grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the library. He grabbed a school broom and started telling Hermione the basics on how to hold on and kick off.
When she got on the broom, Harry positioned her hands and said, “Now, watch me kick off, then follow me.” Harry kicked off from the ground, soared around, and then came back to coach Hermione off the ground. After a few fumbles, she was in the air.
“Great, Hermione! Now just watch me turn, and you'll have it no time!” Harry called out to her. His praise made her heart sing, and she tried futilely to quash her body's response to Harry's pleasure. He turned and flew toward the goal hoops, Hermione following more slowly. Soon, she became more confident in her own abilities and in Harry's proven teaching abilities. She went faster, to much cheering from Harry. When a powerful gust of wind tried to unseat her, Harry flew over to steady her.
“It's okay, everything's okay,” he whispered in her ear. “Just stay calm.” She nodded and steadied herself, much to her surprise. When she saw Harry heading for the ground, she followed. After a slightly shaky landing she asked him, “Why are we going in now? I was just starting to have fun.”
“There's a storm blowing in. We can always practice more tomorrow,” Harry said with a smile that lit up his eyes. He threw his arm around her shoulders as they walked to the castle. “Tryouts aren't scheduled until late next week.”
“Are you sure I'll be ready by then?” Hermione asked worriedly.
“No problem whatsoever. Tomorrow I think I'll start you on Quidditch maneuvers and throwing the Quaffle in the goal hoops,” Harry said confidently. The rain started coming down just as they reached the double doors, and they ducked in laughing.
“Oh, Harry, I had so much fun out there!” Hermione exclaimed as they dodged the raindrops.
“Harry, my boy! I've been looking all over for you! How do you do, Miss Granger?” Horace Slughorn said as he came up to them.
“I'm fine, Professor,” Hermione said. He smiled and turned to Harry. “Harry, how would you like to have dinner with me and a few other students I've taken a liking to? Miss Granger is welcome to come along as well, of course.” Harry had already had a vision about an assignment Dumbledore would give him later and thought it best to cultivate Slughorn early.
“Sure, we'll come,” he promised the rotund teacher. Slughorn beamed at them both and walked away. Hermione turned to Harry in confusion and anger. “Harry, why did you answer for both of us without consulting me?”
He put an arm around her waist and whispered into her ear, “I'll need his help later, and I'll need your help to get his help.” She thought for a second then nodded. “Alright.” He impulsively kissed her cheek. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
“Oh, I think we're even. You're teaching me to fly like you, and I never used to like flying,” Hermione said, blushing after his kiss. She turned to go back to the library when Harry called her back. “Just, be careful around Ron, please. There's something not right there,” he said. Hermione looked confused, but as she had told Dumbledore the previous year, she had learned to trust Harry's instincts early on. There was no way she was going to ignore such a warning, even if it was against their friend and her boyfriend.
The next Slug Club dinner was on Tuesday, the night before Harry's next lesson with Dumbledore. Harry and Hermione walked down to the dungeons, narrowly avoiding a lurking Snape, and arrived at Slughorn's sumptuously decorated apartments. He opened the door and welcomed the two Sixth Years graciously.
“Welcome Harry, Hermione,” Slughorn said happily. “I may call you both that, right?” Harry and Hermione nodded, smiling. Slughorn beamed. He preceded them into the room and said, “Everyone, we have two new friends. Meet Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, Sixth Years in Gryffindor.” Everyone else nodded welcome, though the Slytherins in the group sneered at them.
All during that dinner, Slughorn asked questions of Harry and Hermione, though it was obvious he was more interested in Harry. However, Harry wanted Hermione to have some recognition. He stared directly at Slughorn, and penetrated his mind. Ask Hermione about herself, he silently commanded the rotund teacher. Slughorn had no choice but to obey the command.
“So Hermione, what are you planning to do after you graduate?” he asked her.
“I'm planning on becoming an Auror, though my parents want me to follow them into dentistry,” Hermione responded.
“Dentistry? You're parents are dentists? That means you're muggleborn!” Slughorn exclaimed. “Oh this is wonderful! I haven't seen such a brilliant muggleborn in twenty years!”
“What muggleborn would that be, sir?” Blaise Zabini, a Sixth Year Slytherin boy, asked with a smirk for Hermione.
“Oh that would be Lily Evans, Blaise. A really bright girl, very talented. For a while I thought she might fall for Severus Snape, but he bungled that. But I can't complain, she did go for James Potter, and the result is sitting right here,” Slughorn answered.
“Do you remember anything from the night they were killed, Harry?” he then asked.
“No, not much. Just Voldemort's laugh, a flash of green light, and a sharp pain in my forehead,” Harry answered softly, his voice tinged with the pain of loss. Hermione rubbed his arm comfortingly, earning a speculative look from Slughorn.
“I heard you were dating Ronald Weasley, Hermione. How's that going?”
“Okay, when we're not arguing,” Hermione said, still looking concernedly at Harry.
“Harry, I heard from Albus that you were with Ginny Weasley,” Slughorn began. Harry nearly exploded.
“I have never dated that little bitch, and I never will!” Harry declared hotly. “Zabini, if you or anyone else in this room wants her, then please, for the love of God and Merlin, take her!”
“I might just go for a ride on that firebrand,” Zabini said suggestively.
“Tell me when you'll try, and I'll knock Ron out for you,” Harry offered.
“It's a deal, Potter,” Zabini said gleefully. The dinner ended soon after, and Harry and Hermione left.
Over the next week and a half, Harry taught Hermione more Quidditch moves, and she steadily improved under Harry's tutelage. She could score against the most determined Keeper, and Harry did make a good practice Keeper. Finally, on the day of the tryouts, Hermione arrived on the Pitch clutching a broom and looking determined. There were only a few others there, including a big boy named Cormac McLaggen, who announced he was trying out for Keeper.
“I already have a Keeper,” Harry said. “Ron, someone's here to challenge you.” The redheaded boy shrugged and waved good-by at McLaggen, who just scowled threateningly.
“Alright, McLaggen, if you think you're a match for Ron, we'll try you. Ron, you're up first. The one who saves the most gets the spot,” Harry announced. Ron flew up to the goal hoops and Katie Bell, the only veteran Chaser left, tossed the Quaffle five times, and Ron missed none. McLaggen went up, saved the first four, but on the fifth he flew way off to the opposite side.
“Alright, it's obvious. Ron's in,” Harry announced. Ron thumbed his nose at McLaggen and grinned at Ginny, who was looking oddly triumphant...
“Now for the Chaser hopefuls to try out. Hermione, you and Dean join Katie up there. Kirke and I will see how many Bludgers you can dodge.” Harry mounted his Firebolt and flew up, with Andrew Kirke tailing him. They both hit Bludgers toward the two hopefuls. After dodging twice, Dean's broom was hit. Hermione, however, had dodged those two, and twice more after that before Harry blew his whistle. “Hermione, you're a runner up for the first spot. Dean, I think I'll put you in reserve.” Dean grinned and smiled at Ginny, who smiled back.
After Hermione flew back down, Harry sent up a Fourth Year and a Third Year. The Fourth Year, Demelza Robins, proved particularly elusive. Not a single Bludger hit her. Harry blew his whistle, and sent the Third Year hobbling back to the castle where she could be healed by Madame Pomfrey.
“The two new Chasers are Hermione Granger and Demelza Robins, with Dean Thomas in reserve,” Harry announced. “Now I have to go find McLaggen, wherever he may have wandered off to.” He swooped off to find the missing boy, while the team trooped back up to the castle. He later found McLaggen wandering around the lake serenading the Giant Squid.
Two weeks had passed, and Harry thought his promise to Zabini had gone unnoticed by Ginny, but that was not to be. She cornered him in the Common Room one night, her blue eyes darkening with anger.
“You dare try to sell me to Blaise Zabini!” she shouted, her eyes narrowed. Harry, who was still trying to get an obvious change out of her, just raised one eyebrow slowly. That lack of reaction just infuriated Ginny even more.
“You don't even show regret, Potter!” she stormed at him, drawing curious looks from other students. Several boys were ranging themselves behind Harry, cheering him on. At one look from Ginny, however, they took several steps back in fear. Something had happened to her eyes. They were no longer blue, but instead looked like dark pits. Her voice also lowered several octaves, and could curdle milk. “I will make sure you live to regret this, Harry Potter...” She turned and walked away, swaying sinuously.
“I used to fancy her,” Dean Thomas muttered fearfully as soon as she was out of earshot.
“Used to?” Seamus Finnegan muttered in response. “What happened?”
“This,” Dean said. “I'm afraid if I date her, she'll sacrifice me to some dark demon.”
Also, the news of Ginny's new personality had reached Blaise Zabini. He no longer desired a liaison with Ginny, as he'd rather have a girl who wouldn't dismember him if he said something wrong.
Harry had told Sirius of Ginny's change and manner, which concerned the Auror greatly. Another piece of evidence was Snape, who kept hanging around the Gryffindor Fifth Year, as though he were her bodyguard. Of course, anything involving Snape was irrefutable proof of wrongdoing in Sirius' mind, and Harry agreed completely. However, Dumbledore was a different story altogether. He still trusted Snape, which annoyed Harry. He arrived a little early for the next lesson, which earned a smile from Dumbledore.
“Harry, you're a little early tonight,” Dumbledore said, smiling.
“I had a feeling we'd be discussing something important tonight,” Harry lied glibly. Dumbledore picked up on the lie, and stood up straighter. The twinkle left his blue eyes.
“Harry,” he said warningly, “you just lied to me. Why?” Harry kept his mouth shut; the only sign of reaction to the accusation was a gleam coming to his green eyes. Dumbledore fingered his wand, obviously figuring out he was on thin ice. Harry stood stock still, refusing to relax. He was ready for a fight, but one never came.
“Harry, if you want my trust, you need to earn it,” Dumbledore said coolly. “You cannot do that by lying to me.”
“Do you really want to know?” Harry asked stiffly. Dumbledore relaxed. “Yes,” he said.
“Fine. When I say I 'get a feeling' about something, I'm actually saying I know exactly what's going to happen,” Harry reported, his voice still stiff. “In short, I am a Seer.”
“A Seer?!” Dumbledore exclaimed. He sat down heavily. “When you said Severus was going to kill me, you didn't just mean you didn't trust him.”
“That's right. I saw it happen,” Harry said. He leaned forward, placing his hands on Dumbledore's desk and allowing his claws to extend slightly in a show of strength. “And you know what? Snape will die by my hand before I let him lay a finger on you.” He pulled back, turned around, and walked out of Dumbledore's office. He could hear the portraits muttering as he shut the door with a snap.
On his way back to the Common Room, he heard sounds like a plunger coming free from a toilet. He peeked behind a tapestry, and found Ron and Hermione making out. Harry quickly raised his shields before he lost control of his already taxed emotions. He didn't want to dismember Ron right there and take Hermione against the wall, or she might never love him back.
“Hermione, you're a Hogwarts Prefect. You should know you shouldn't be doing this right now,” Harry said. Ron started whining at Harry.
“Oh, Harry, you wouldn't be so uptight about this if you had actually kissed a girl,” Ron whined. Harry grinned at his “best mate”, and nodded in agreement.
“You're right Ron. I haven't kissed a girl...yet,” Harry muttered. He suddenly lunged forward, grabbed Hermione around her upper arms, and kissed her hard. His tongue forced its way into her mouth, and she felt his fangs. The sensation of his fangs grazing her tongue caused Hermione to almost purr deep in her throat. After a moment of passionate kissing, Harry pulled away.
“Now I have kissed a girl, mate,” Harry said, grinning lazily. He walked away as Ron stared dumbfounded at his retreating back.
“You kissed him back!” he rounded on Hermione.
“I didn't know he was going to do that!” Hermione snapped. “Remember, Harry's the Seer, not me!”
“You could have pushed him away once the spark reached your brain, if you have one!” Ron screamed. Hermione's face contorted. “It takes one to know one!” she screamed back.
“Harry's a scrawny little thing, and Demelza Robins could have pushed him away if she was asleep!”
“Well if I'm obviously too stupid to know who's tongue is in my mouth, you could have hexed him off me!” Hermione screamed back. “Oh wait! To do that, you can't be a squib!” Ron's face contorted. Hermione stormed away, leaving Ron gaping after her like a fish.
As Hermione left, Argus Filch sidled up to Ron. “Here, laddie. Kwikspell helped me out. Maybe they can help you learn magic, too.” Filch walked away, with his horrible cat following after him, purring at his heels.
Colin Creevey turned away, with his fist stuffed in his mouth and tears in his eyes. He had witnessed everything, from Harry catching Ron and Hermione, to Filch handing Ron a Kwikspell letter. This was shaping up to be the end of Ron and Hermione. And that, of course, meant that Harry would have a chance at true love. Oh, I can't wait to tell Dennis, Colin thought gleefully.
* * * *
EDITOR’S NOTE: *Laughs uproariously* Some of you reviewers wanted Harmony. How’s this? Personally, I think it’s plenty… for now. What do you think? Review!
And thank you very much for reading.
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